condo wants mezuza off
masinter at NSU.ACAST.NOVA.EDU
Wed Apr 16 09:09:07 PDT 1997
On Wed, 16 Apr 1997, David Klein wrote:
> I rent an apartment in a condo. When I first moved in, I placed a
> mezuza on the doorpost of my apartment.
> About 1 year later, I get a violation notice and threatening letters
> that I must remove the mezuza (no decorations are permitted in common
> elements). As a jew, my religion mandates that I have a mezuza. I am
> also a son of holocaust survivors and the mezuza is extremely important
> in that regard.
> If the condo is successful, they would have a way to keep jews out of the condo. I would never live in a place where it would be prohibited.
> I plan to file for injunctive relief.
> any suggestions would be appreciated.
> has anyone seen anything like this?
One would think a lawsuit would be unnecessary, but the tendency
of condo boards to think they are a law unto themselves, reinforced by
their perception that they are playing with other people's money (condo
assessments) moves them to take positions nobody would assert were they
personally responsible. But they are -- cases under the Fair Housing Act
consistently hold individual officers and/or directors personally liable
for the discriminatory acts they undertake in their corporate capacity.
Perhaps a letter explaining that the Fair Housing Act also imposes
liability for compensatory and puntive damages will help. If all else
fails, you can enforce the Fair Housing Act in either of two ways -- by
bringing a lawsuit, or by filing an administrative complaint with the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development.
On the merits, there are two legal theories for the claim -- one
is intentional discrimination on the basis of religion, which requires
proof, usually by circumstantial evidence, that the rule against
decorations in common areas is not uniformly enforced (assuming the door
post even is a common area; you may want to determine that); the other is
a disparate impact claim that a facially neutral rule disproportionately
affects one religious affiliation and is not justified by business
necessity. For the latter claim, damages are not available.
Again, I would hope litigation is unnecessary; perhaps the folks
involved simply are not familiar with Judaism (unlikely in most places,
but, regrettably ,I have never been to Hawai'i, and, sadly, have no
personal experience to draw upon).
Michael R. Masinter 3305 College Avenue
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 33314
Shepard Broad Law Center (954) 262-6151
masinter at law.acast.nova.edu
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